East Alabama Medical Center reported another death Monday from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, bringing the death toll at the Lee County hospital up to seven since Friday.
EAMC says that two people from Lee County and five people from Chambers County have died at the hospital after testing positive for the virus.
The hospital is treating 20 people who are hospitalized with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. Another 31 patients are hospitalized with a suspected COVID-19 diagnosis. Seven people have been discharged.
Lee County and Chambers County have among the highest number of cases of the virus per capita in the state. Chambers County, which has 33 cases as of 6:20 p.m. on Monday, has the highest number per capita.
The hospital says the number of cases in Lee and Chambers counties may be higher because it has submitted a high number of samples to be tested at the state’s lab in Montgomery.
“It’s important to remember that EAMC began testing earlier than many other areas of the state and currently accounts for almost 20 percent of all (state) testing in Alabama,” the hospital said in a statement.
It’s unclear how many people have really been tested in the state because the Alabama Department of Public Health is not requiring commercial labs to report their negative test results, only their positives.
The hospital also said spring break could have contributed to the high number of cases in Lee County.
“Also, spring break for Auburn University and Auburn City Schools occurred early in the month before travel restrictions were put in place,” the hospital said.
EAMC has also said in-person church services as recently as last week contributed to a number of cases.
For several weeks, EAMC has encouraged sheltering in place at home as the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We have reached out to community leaders, city officials and the media to help share this important message,” EAMC said in a statment. “Unfortunately, there are still groups gathering, children playing in neighborhood parks, dinner parties, bible studies and other similar events. These gatherings are part of our everyday life, and may seem harmless, but continuing to participate in such events will allow COVID-19 to spread further throughout our community and infect the most vulnerable among us.”
While Gov. Kay Ivey and the Department of Public Health have not issued a shelter-in-place order, EAMC is asking area residents to shelter in place at home.
“That means staying at home with immediate family members only and not leaving your home except for essential activities such as food, medical care, or work,” the hospital said. “When you do venture out, you should maintain a 6-foot distance from other people, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time, and frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces.”
Lee County and Chambers County — unlike Jefferson County and Mobile — are not able to issue their own public health orders that are more restrictive than the state’s orders, despite the fact that Lee County and Chambers County have more cases per capita than Jefferson or Mobile County. Chambers has more than two-times the number cases as Jefferson County.
The hospital is also asking for donations.
“While we are currently stable in the number of ventilators, supplies, and other equipment, we still could use help with certain items,” the hospital said in a statement.
Businesses with access to the items listed below who wish to donate them may bring them to the collection site outside of EAMC’s Main Lobby between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. each weekday. An EAMC representative will be there to collect the supplies
- Isolation gowns: non-sterile, impervious
- Masks: surgical, procedure, ear loop, ear loop with face shield, or fog-free procedure mask
- Latex gloves: exam, nitrile or chemo
- Hand sanitizer: 70% ethyl alcohol